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In the Narrative Portraiture series, photographer and teacher Chris Orwig explores how to use location and natural light to create images that tell stories about their subjects and produce a strong emotional connection.
In this installment, Chris travels to Texas to visit two artists: David Cargill, a Beaumont sculptor who works with bronze and marble, and Charles Stagg, another Beaumont sculptor but in recycled and found materials. Chris takes their portraits and spends time discussing the composition and lighting in each session.
Chris also reviews the photos he took, and discusses the gear he used and the lessons he learned while visiting with and photographing these artists.
At this point, I was complete with making photographs with Charles, yet there were other people in this location that I wanted to include in some frames. So we called it a wrap and then I continued to walk around. This is one frame that I really like. It's a picture of Pat Carter, Keith's wife. I like how she is walking through this opening. I like that face above and the different shapes, the door opening in the front, and also the two door openings in the background. And so what I wanted to do here was just to capture a bit more of the space and also the people here.
I wanted to bring some people together. So I continue to walk with my camera in hand. Here's another photograph of Pat looking up at the light. I like this image. I like how she is looking kind of towards the sky. And then of course, I want to capture a few pictures of Keith. Here was Keith, walking around capturing images, and he just made a few frames while we were there. What was so interesting to me was he was just so observant. He would look and stare, with his camera on his shoulder. So in a sense, this picture is a snapshot, but it's a snapshot which is important to me, not because it's photographically great, but because of what it reminds me.
It reminds me of this importance of sometimes hanging your camera and just looking and absorbing the scene. So I continued to walk and observe myself. At one point there was this opening in one of the walls. I had asked Keith's studio manager if she wouldn't mind sticking her head through it. Here's that shot. Here's another perspective of it, a bit more pulled back. I like this horizontal perspective and that she is not smiling very much. At this point, all that this is about is just having fun with your camera.
I was there of course to capture portraits of Charles, but there were other people as well. I wanted to photograph them too. Well, in this courtyard where this little area was were these fascinating ladders. I had asked Pat to stand next to one and to lean on that ladder. I also wanted to get a picture of Pat, Keith, and Charles together. So using that same space, I asked them to get together. Here I asked Keith to climb up on the ladder. You can tell they are talking and sharing some stories. And I wanted to capture a bit of that togetherness.
I also wanted to create a frame that was perhaps a bit less candid. So here in this case, you can see they are really looking intently at the camera. I also want to create an image where they work together but separate, something that was a bit more crafted than just people side by side, and so I made this frame. I asked Charles to climb up on one ladder, Pat to put her foot on the ladder in the foreground, and Keith to sit on another one. And I like this one. I like the different elements and how they are all part of this interesting frame.
Sometimes when you set out to create photographs you have to be open for those moments where you are surprised. Yes, I'm here with this agenda in mind, but there is always so much more to see, so much more to photograph. Well, after these pictures, I set my camera down and it was then time to just hang out. We all sat around in a circle, and we talked, and we wrapped up the day, and it really was a fascinating experience exploring how to capture a bit of this space and the person who had created it.
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